Oklahoma has incarcerated more women, per capita, than any other state in the country.
But with the Still She Rises Tulsa organization’s campaign, one public defender’s office is solely focused on representing mothers in the criminal justice system.
“We are public defenders. We are on the front-end of the work,” said Patrice James, an attorney with the nonprofit. “When a woman gets arrested, we are there to represent the women during her criminal case.”
Currently, of the more than 27,000 inmates, 3,187 are women, according to Oklahoma Department of Corrections statistics.
Still She Rises has seen over 200 clients since it opened in early 2017, and an estimated 70 to 75 percent are African-American.
“One of the fundamental rights we believe people have is the right to parent their children and . . . if you’re facing prison time, you can’t parent,” James said. “If you’re at risk of losing your children, you can’t parent, and for us, being able to parent and being able to parent in the manner you see best, is just a fundamental right. We believe the government should not interfere for no reason.”